Climate Policy | New Hampshire Public Radio

Climate Policy

Martin Bamford, https://bit.ly/3lRH8BU

What if, instead of lowering emissions, a large company could pay someone else to do it instead? That's the basic idea behind carbon offsets: a market-based approach to buying and selling reductions in atmospheric carbon dioxide. In this episode, Sam talks our producers through the scientific hoops required to verify one type of popular carbon offset (planting or conserving trees) to better understand whether offsets are a solid piece of the climate puzzle - or sort of a scam. 

Plus, we remember a singular feline: Marty, the Mount Washington mouser. 

David Murray / via NHDES

Democrats describe themselves as the only party taking the threat of climate change seriously. And President Trump’s continued denial of climate science and rollbacks of environmental protections haven’t made it easy for Republicans to change that.

But some New Hampshire conservatives think their candidates could be doing more to run – and win – on climate change.


Annie Ropeik / NHPR file

Climate change policy marks one of the sharpest divides between incumbent Republican Gov. Chris Sununu and his Democratic challenger, Concord state Sen. Dan Feltes.  

NHPR’s Morning Edition host Rick Ganley spoke with reporter Annie Ropeik about how the candidates' differences on this issue put the state at a crossroads on climate action.


Wikimedia

A new emissions inventory for the city of Concord points to potential climate change solutions as the state capital works to sharply lower its greenhouse gas emissions.

Concord’s city council set its climate change goals in 2018. They want all electricity used locally to come from renewable sources by 2030, and the same for heating, cooling and transportation by 2050.

NHSaves

New Hampshire's electric and natural gas utilities are proposing an increase to their energy efficiency savings goals for the next three years, in a plan that aims to cut costs and carbon emissions but could slightly increase customers’ bills in the short-term.

The proposal centers on the utility-run NHSaves rebate program, which gives ratepayers incentives to use less energy by upgrading things like appliances, insulation or machinery.

Jerry and Marcy Monkman / Trust For Public Lands

The state is out with a draft 10-year plan for managing its forests, with a new focus on recreation and climate change impacts. 

The Division of Forests and Lands updates this plan every decade. The new 2020 draft plan is out for public comment until Oct. 15.

ReVision Energy Instagram

COVID-19 has been hard on just about every industry in New Hampshire, and renewable energy is no exception. 

People worried about money are putting off investing in solar panels, and health concerns have made home energy efficiency visits more complicated. But scientists say investments like these can lower energy costs, and remain a critical way to combat the other big crisis we’re facing – climate change. 

As part of NHPR’s new climate change reporting project, By Degrees, NHPR’s Annie Ropeik has been trying to find out what might be ahead for the renewable energy industry in the state. Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with her about what’s next.

State officials are trying a new approach to a long-running issue -- the effects of air pollution on public health -- with a new commission that met virtually for the first time Thursday night. 

The ad-hoc Emissions Commission includes Democratic and Republican state lawmakers, plus members of state agencies and major health, business and environmental organizations.

Dmoore5556 / Creative Commons

President Trump on Tuesday signed a bipartisan bill that permanently funds the nation's biggest natural resource conservation program.

State environmental groups say the Great American Outdoors Act, backed by New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation, is a milestone that's been decades in the making.

Hemera Collection

The state is launching a broad new effort to find ways to reduce the air emissions that drive respiratory disease and climate change in New Hampshire.

The non-partisan Emissions Commission meets for the first time next week and will include members of state agencies, utilities and the legislature, along with health, business and environmental advocates.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR File Photo

A regional plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants also made the northeast healthier, by reducing air pollutants like mercury and sulfur dioxide.

But a new study focused on children found the benefits of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, were even greater than previously thought – preventing hundreds of childhood illnesses and saving an additional hundreds of millions of dollars.

The findings were published Wednesday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Joy Jackson / Unsplash

Gov. Chris Sununu handed down another expected veto of a clean energy plan Friday.

He rejected a bill that would expand New Hampshire's Renewable Portfolio Standard and increase how much solar power utilities must use.

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Annie Ropeik / NHPR

U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt was in New Hampshire Wednesday, touring the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Bernhardt’s visit came just before the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which helps New Hampshire and other states fund ecological and cultural conservation projects.

President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill in the coming days.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Massachusetts recently announced that it was ending its pandemic moratorium on reusable shopping bags, saying towns could go back to reinforcing their bans on single-use plastic bags. 

Meanwhile, New Hampshire and many other states are still not letting shoppers bring their reusable bags to stores. But is that actually helping to slow the spread of coronavirus?


Daniela Allee / NHPR

Earlier this year, the city of Lebanon gave a small group of residents the chance to bring not their trash and recyclables to the local landfill, but their compost too.

It makes Lebanon one of a few cities in the state helping residents reduce food waste, which is a major contributor to climate change.


Flicker CC / https://flic.kr/p/drsrm8

Federal regulators have declined to act on a challenge to a pro-solar energy law from a group with ties to conservative New Hampshire politics and Gov. Chris Sununu.

The New England Ratepayers Association’s petition to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission dealt with net metering, where customers can generate and sell their own, often renewable power back to the grid to save on their utility bills.

CSPAN

To kick off NHPR's new reporting project By Degrees, we're unpacking the basics of how climate change is already affecting life in New Hampshire, and how the state is contributing to and responding to the problem. 

Rachel Cleetus is the policy director for the Union of Concerned Scientists' Climate and Energy Program, based in Massachusetts.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR file

A federal challenge to a policy that benefits solar energy – from a conservative lobbying firm with New Hampshire roots – is attracting attention from around the country.

The New England Ratepayers Association, or NERA, is based in Boston but active in Granite State politics. They formed in 2016 and do not disclose their membership.

flickr

The idea of massively expanding tree planting as a solution to climate change started in the hallowed halls of academia, but has found its way to Capitol Hill. Republican lawmakers have seized on it as a climate policy they can support. 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The head of the Democratic National Committee’s new climate change council was in New Hampshire just ahead of the primary, quietly kicking off efforts to reshape the party’s environmental platform in 2020.

Party leaders voted unanimously to form this council last summer, after taking widespread criticism for declining to hold a climate-focused presidential debate.

It’s a sign of progress for the council’s elected chair, Michelle Deatrick of Michigan. She worked for Bernie Sanders in 2016 and later campaigned for Hillary Clinton.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Voters heard new specifics and a sense of urgency around climate change from several Democratic candidates at a youth-focused forum in Concord Wednesday.

Former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, businessman Andrew Yang were among the candidates present; others were represented by surrogates. 

With national media and top climate activists watching, they laid out their plans to tackle global warming and related equity issues, and took questions from students involved in sustainability fields and climate science.  

Annie Ropeik / NHPR News

Many of the Democratic presidential candidates will be in Concord Wednesday for a marathon town hall on climate change.

The day-long forum focuses on young voters – especially students working in or studying climate and clean energy issues.

Each candidate will get about an hour to talk about their climate change plans and take questions from students in related fields.

NHPR Staff

Lawmakers on Tuesday heard two opposing plans for bolstering state highway revenues, in response to a decline in gas tax revenue and road maintenance funding as vehicles get more efficient or go electric.

Courtesy Michael Behrmann / Clean Energy NH

Most New England states have been investing in alternative energy sources for years. But New Hampshire has been slower to act in response to climate change.

Now, the Granite State is looking to be a leader in a major new source of renewable energy: offshore wind.